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Rocket @ Senators recap: Laval struggles to get in gear against Belleville

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After a week off, the Rocket failed to find their legs in a shutout loss.

Club de Hockey Canadien

With over a week off between games, the Laval Rocket hit the road for their first trip of the season. First up was a stop in Ottawa to open a two-game series against the Belleville Senators. Laval had taken three of four games in dominant fashion when the teams met to kick off the season, and are coming off a split series with the Manitoba Moose, having won the last two games in the series.

Laval is without their captain Xavier Ouellet and dependable forward Laurent Dauphin, as both were recalled to the Montreal taxi squad as the NHL club began a road trip of their own. Yannick Veilleux drew back into the lineup after sitting out with a minor injury, and Tobie Paquette-Bisson made his Laval debut slotting in on the third pair next to Gustav Olofsson. The Rocket started Cayden Primeau, while the Senators countered with Filip Gustavsson.

The Rocket had a chance to jump out to an early lead as Egor Sokolov was called for a trip in the offensive zone, sending Laval to an early power play. While the Rocket advantage cycled without issue through the zone, but couldn’t get anything past Gustavsson.

With the game back at even strength, the teams fell into a back and forth sparring battle, trading the occasional chance on net, but failing to create much of anything dangerous. A late Otto Leskinen interference penalty changed that, as Belleville went on a late power play. Belleville put the pressure on with a swarming attack that forced Primeau to be quick between the pipes to keep the puck out. Despite the heavy Senators attack to end the period, they also failed to find a goal, and the two teams headed into intermission with the game scoreless.

Belleville found their breakthrough early in the second period when Alex Formenton used his speed to beat the Rocket defence and fire a shot by Primeau. Logan Shaw sent Formenton in on net, and Josh Brook wasn’t able to keep pace with the speedy forward, and Formenton fired his shot under Primeau’s glove to break the deadlock. Just under a minute later it was Egor Sokolov doubling the Senators’ lead, as he walked in and fired a shot into the far corner of the net to make it 2-0.

With a two goal lead the Senators were able to relax a bit and defend, even then the Rocket struggled to generate much in the way of a threatening attack. Passes were missing sticks, players were falling down, in short the Rocket offence was stuck in park as the game passed its halfway point. In fact the only real offence in the period came from Brandon Baddock throwing punches with Joseph LaBate after the Senators forward landed a high hit on Gustav Olofsson.

Laval was in need of a big third period after tallying just 11 shots on goal through 40 minutes and trailing by a pair of goals.

The Rocket didn’t help their own cause when they were called for interference after someone on the bench grabbed Alex Formenton’s stick. Laval managed to get the best chances during the two minute power play, including a tic-tac-toe passing play to Jake Lucchini that was fended off by the pads of Gustavsson as Lucchini tried to slide the backhand shot home.

Laval continued to push, trying to find a way onto the scoreboard, but their attacks were continually repelled as they hit the Belleville zone. Then in the blink of an eye, the Senators lead had grown to three goals thanks to Logan Shaw. The veteran winger swung out wide entering the Laval zone after taking a pass from Parker Kelly. Shaw looked up, then rifled a shot right over Primeau’s shoulder, just under the bar to make it a 3-0 game.

Three goals was all the Senators needed to close out the game, as Laval couldn’t muster any sort of last-ditch comeback attempt. When the final horn sounded it was Gustavsson standing tall with an 18 save shutout for the Senators. The Rocket will have a chance to get back in the win column on Wednesday when they square off with the Senators again in Ottawa. It’s expected that one of Michael McNiven or Vasili Demchenko will get the start, and someone may draw in for Gustav Olofsson, whose wife is expecting a child in the near future.

Final Score: Belleville 3, Laval 0

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